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Kavita claims 10,000m bronze

Stan Rayan

Country's first CWG individual track medal from a woman

NEW DELHI: As they watched Kavita Raut race to her 10,000m bronze, there were tears in the eyes of the country's distance runners Sinimole Paulose and Chatholi Hamza.

Tears of joy for the 25-year-old from Nashik in Maharashtra brought home the country's first individual track medal at the Commonwealth Games in more than 50 years, Milkha Singh's 440 yards gold at the 1958 Cardiff Games being the last.

“I'm very happy to win it in our stadium,” said an elated Kavita after the race where Grace Kwamboka Momanyi and Doris Chepkwemo Changeywo won the top two spots. “I will now go for the Asian Games gold next month.”

“I followed the coach's plan till the 5-km mark but since the others were breaking away after that, I ran the race accordingly,” said the ONGC employee who draped herself in an Indian flag and did a celebratory lap around the Nehru Stadium with the Kenyans.

It was also India's first medal from athletics in the ongoing Games and the country's first-ever individual track medal from a woman in the Commonwealth Games history.

Great experience

“This means a lot to us,” said middle-distance runner Sinimole Paulose, tears of joy flowing down her cheeks. “To see the India flag flying is a great experience.”

Kavita's bronze is precious for it did not come from the throws but from an event which is dominated by the Commonwealth's African countries. The girl, who comes from a tribal background, had won two medals in the last Asian Championship in Guangzhou.

The other Indian in the race Preeja Sreedharan, who fell ill a few days ago, finished seventh and was in tears.

Kavitha's bronze came minutes after the women's triple jump where the expected medal for the host did not come about.

Mayookha Johny had been talking about a 14-metre triple jump at the Commonwealth Games for a few weeks now. She walked her talk with some spectacular jumps, breaking Anju George's national record at the recent inter-State National in Patiala.

But it was Mayookha's friend M.A. Prajusha who stole the thunder and the women's national record while finishing fourth in the triple jump.

Prajusha sizzles

The 23-year-old bettered Mayookha's two-month old National mark by four centimetres with a fourth-round effort of 13.72m.

“I was very happy with that jump, for it pushed me from the seventh position to third,” said Prajusha, who improved her personal best by a massive 18 cms.

Prajusha's joy and medal hopes lasted just a round. Canadian Tabia Charles dashed the country's hopes with a 13.84 leap, to take the bronze.

Jamaica's Trecia Smith, defending champion and former World champion, who had just one legal jump (14.19m) won the gold while Trinidad's Alexander Ayanna took the silver with 13.91m. Trecia's jump was an Indian all-comers record.

Mayookha finished seventh with 13.58m while Gayathri Govindaraj was tenth with an opening effort of 12.96, her only legal jump.

“I squatted on my ankle in my first jump and it hurt all through my jumps,” said Mayookha. “I was never comfortable after that.”

Meanwhile, the male long jumpers — Open National champion Ankit Sharma (7.56m), Maha Singh (7.49) and Harikrishnan (7.40) — fared badly in the qualification round, Maha and Ankit progressed while Harikrishna failed to do so.

Jhuma Khatun finished 12th and last in the women's 1500m (4:14.95).

On the brighter side, Mandeep Kaur finished a creditable sixth in the women's 400m after hauling herself up on the home stretch while Francis Sagayaraj (1:50.12s) and Manjit Singh (1:51.22) qualified for the 800m men's semifinal. Pankaj Dimri, who clocked 1:46.26 at the recent Patiala inter-State event, was absent.

And in the men's decathlon, Bharat Inder Singh was eighth in a personal-best 7225 points while P.J. Vinod was 10th with 7130.

Siddhanth Thingalaya, who recorded the National mark of 13.81s in Patiala in August, could only manage 14.06 and failed to progress further after finishing fifth in the first round heats. His teammate Muthuswamy Pandi (14.97) also had a similar finish.

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